As a gifted individual, your CV presents you with an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other prospective job candidates in two distinct ways:

#1 – The obvious stuff your CV should do

The main point of any CV is to list your professional and academic achievements. As a successful person your content should speak for itself, and there is nothing short-term you can do to improve upon this.

#2 – The non-obvious stuff your CV should do (for elite candidates only)

When applying for a Job, you need to think like a marketing guru. You are a prestige product, and the CV is your advertising material. You have the chance to send an awful lot of positive messages with your CV that have nothing to do with your exam grades and career history.

As a standalone document, your CV is the only part of the Job Application process that you will have complete control over. You therefore have an unlimited timeframe in which to perfect the order, the design, the layout, the quality of paper, the typeface; everything you can possibly do that will elevate your status above your competition. I think the CV is one of those things where it pays to be a perfectionist.

Why exceptional people need a better CV

Often, as a high-achiever, the jobs you want will be better than your peers could hope to get. You want to achieve much more, much faster, and consequently for any job to which you apply, you are likely to have the least experience compared to the competition. You cannot artificially inflate your career history on your CV (without lying), but if your overall approach is good enough (nay, great enough) you should get through to the interview stages for a lot of jobs that, on paper at least, you are not experienced enough to qualify for.

Adjust your CV to emphasise your greatness!

The following are some things I have implemented in my CV over the last few years…

1) Don’t put your date of birth

Why should you? If you’re leaving University or you are in the first few years of your professional career then your abilities and your persona are the most important things – not the year you were born.
When I used to include my D.O.B on my CV the only reason I ever got rejected at the CV stage was because the company was “looking for somebody with more experience”. Since I stopped putting my age my CV doesn’t get rejected any more.

2) Don’t bother with Personal Details

Some peoples’ CVs have half of their front page dedicated to their address, marriage status, D.O.B, blood group, height, weight, favourite food etc. etc.. Why? It is pointless self-indulgence. Like advertising, the space on the front page of your CV should be treated as a premium, so fill it with something good.

My CV’s personal details section is tucked away on the last page and it has two items:

  • Driving License: Full, Clean
  • Marital Status: Single

The only other thing I need to include is my contact details, and these are included in the title of the front page (taking up as little space as possible), and I repeat my phone number and email address in the footer section of the document.

3) Sprinkle your CV with Awards

You’re a high-achiever right? So you’ve won your fair share of accolades throughout your Work and Academic history, right?

As a sub-heading to each section on my CV (University History, High School History, Job History etc.) I include all the relevant awards I won at that stage of my development. You don’t need to describe what the award was for (be prepared to answer this at the interview) but you do need to include as many as you can.

Remember, your CV is no place for modesty. If ever there was a time to show off the silverware – this is it.

4) Get the order right

My general rule is this:

*Option 1 – For those with less than 3 years since graduation:*

  1. Name (including Post-Nominals)
  2. Address
  3. University Information
  4. School Information (Be Brief)
  5. Current Job
  6. Further Job History
  7. Key Skills (relevant training courses, software expertise etc.)
  8. Other Interests
  9. Personal Details (Be Brief)
  10. Referees

*Option 2 – For those with more than 3 years since graduation:*

  1. Name (including Post-Nominals)
  2. Address
  3. Current Job
  4. Further Job History
  5. Key Skills (relevant training courses, software expertise etc.)
  6. University Information
  7. School Information (Be Brief)
  8. Other Interests
  9. Personal Details (Be Brief)
  10. Referees

5) Choose a suitable email address.

Funny, lewd, offensive or other wise-cracking email addresses have no place on your CV. Your professional credibility will suffer if your contact details are less than appropriate, so choose a sensible sounding email address from one of the more memorable free providers; Yahoo and Gmail are especially good.

6) The Correct Length

Your CV should completely fill, but not go over, 2 pages in length. There are few circumstances when this rule can be broken.

7) Use an Appropriate Typeface

Serif Fonts (Times New Roman, Georgia etc.) look particularly good when printed on decent paper (providing they are not too small). Sans-Serif Fonts (Arial, Verdana) look better when viewed on screen or when small text is required.

Personally I like the main body in Times New Roman (11pt) and then have headings in either Arial (Bold) or Georgia. Don’t use more than 3 fonts in a document and don’t use script fonts or anything else fancy. And, please, never ever ever use comic sans.

8) Maximise the available space

With our 2 page limit, there is always a need to try to cram on too much information. It is important your CV contains plenty of good stuff, but it should not look cramped.

Using a larger font for headlines will add impact, but it is important to leave a larger border of empty space around big type, otherwise the page will look overcrowded. See the CV Template Download below for an example.

You can also tweak the margins in your Word Processing software to get the type to go closer to the edge; I think about 2cm all round looks good.

9) Submitting your CV

You will probably be asked to submit your CV via email, but you may be asked to send a hard copy in the post.

I always do both…

I think a hard copy of your CV, using good quality black ink on high quality paper, can only increase your credibility. Your prospective employers are going to print out your CV anyway, why not give them something nice to handle?

Using email, I always attach my CV in the PDF format, I just think it adds a professional touch. Always mention at the bottom of your email that different file formats are available on request.

Submitting your CV in this way shows professionalism and attention to detail – although I think it is good practice to mention in the email that “you will also send a Hard Copy for their records”, or something to that effect.

A Final word

So that’s about it. With a clever approach regarding content, layout and design, and submitting your document in a professional way, your CV can really underline your status as a high-ability individual.

Please download the free template, and good luck!